Apple’s iMessages and the Federal Fight Over Data Privacy


(Fortune) – This is why we can’t have nice things.

About two years after ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden disclosed that the U.S. government had intercepted tens of thousands of domestic e-mail exchanges and instant-message conversations under the guise of counterterrorism, the government is frustrated that the technology industry won’t play ball and create a technical environment to allow it to enforce the law.

The New York Times reported on Monday that Apple, Microsoft, Google, and others are resisting building access points into their networks for the benefit of the government. In Apple’s case, it’s a door into the company’s encrypted iMessage communications system; in Microsoft’s case, it’s a portal into the computers in its data centers. The Justice Department, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security insist such points are necessary to enforce the law—say, to catch prominent drug dealers by spying on their conversations. The giants of the technology industry say that the Snowden incident shows how reckless the government can be when it has access and a reason.


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